Sunday morning gongfu session shared with the house.
I plopped a clump of the downy, golden curls into Housemate #2’s hand so she could feel it and smell it before having her first cup. She said it was just beautiful and so delicate and soft. There is no other tea whose appearance strikes such an appreciation of the skill that is needed to grow and process my favorite plant. Dry leaf has an alluring and comforting aroma of dark chocolate, light smoke, earth and peppered beef.
5g, 100mL teapot, 200F, flash rinse (drank) followed by 9 steeps at 10/12/15/20/25/30/45/60/90s.
The warmed leaf had the same aromas as the dry leaf with the addition of a honey-brown sugar sweetness. Rinsing brought out more notes including mushroom, wood and faint moss. After the first steep, a comforting addition of baked bread appeared. The liquor aroma was already thick, sweet and permeating with chocolate, orange and a whisper of ginger. Housemate #2, with her first cup, said that “It aromatically wraps its arms around me. Just delicious, beautiful. I’m starting to understand your appreciation for tea. This is much better than lattes.”
I tasted chocolate, earth and mushrooms with the same honey-brown sugar sweetness found in the aroma. Good body already with light bitterness and good astringency. The second steep brought forward the baked bread note present in the wet leaf aroma, along with malt and a very clear mineral expression, leaving me salivating. Housemate #1 at this point said, “It’s very clean and reminds me of a roasted oolong in its delicacy.” In terms of black teas, she’s pretty much only familiar with strong and malty breakfast-types and earl grey. She continued to sip several cups while cooking. By the fourth steep, the liquor lightened a little, allowing the expression of some orange and a similar tartness. Fifth steep brought a pleasant returning sweetness. The tea began its fade with the sixth infusion and I pushed it through until the ninth with the flavors slowly receding into a bright woodiness.
I’ve had this or a similar Imperial golden bud black tea before from another vendor, in which I prepared it western style only. It was one of the several teas responsible for opening me up to a new world of straight loose leaf. Based on Housemate #2’s reaction, I think it may be doing the same for her as she coveted each cup I poured for her. Nothing can compare to the friendly and comforting flavors and aromas in this wonderful dianhong. Highly recommended for tea drinkers of all persuasions.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Ginger, Honey, Malt, Meat, Mineral, Moss, Mushrooms, Orange, Pepper, Smoke, Sweet, Tart, Wood